strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

year’s end memery December 31, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 1:18 pm

1. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before?
Had sex in Paris, stayed up all night in drunken revelry, traveled around Europe alone, got in a car and drove 1000 miles to a state I’d never seen before, switched careers, saw David’s Le mort de Marat, dyed my hair hot pink, did some serious long-distance flirtation, among other things.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Hey, when you’re living 3 hours from Paris and only working 12 hours a week, self-improvement is not at the top of your list. But yes, for this year, I’m going to maintain a regular tai chi and yoga practice in addition to getting my finances under control. And I’m going to finally stick to reading only the books I already own. For real this time! Seriously, I mean it.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth or adopt?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?
Can’t claim Greece, but I did go to Spain, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany.

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?
A sense of stability.

7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 14 (or thereabouts), in Paris, for debauched lesbianism. May 1, in Glastonbury, for rather sober paganism. May 2-4, in Cardiff, for reasons that should be blindingly obvious. July 20ish, for the same reason.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Every time I took a flying leap, not once did I crash land on my ass.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Probably letting fear still get the best of me.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Mono! Woo! Good times.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A groundling ticket to the Globe theater.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Hell, mine, despite myself. Coolest. Year. Ever.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The government’s. As per usual.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Survival: plane tickets, train tickets, food and housing.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Titus Andronicus at the Globe. Getting my own apartment.

16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
“Gone Again” by The Indigo Girls, and “From Paris to Berlin” by Infernal.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
oh happier, very much so
b) thinner or fatter? the same
c) richer or poorer? see previous post

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Boozin’, dancin’ and screwin’. For real.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Dithering, fretting, worrying and just generally freaking out.

20. How will you be spending Christmas New Years?
Downtown with La Chanteuse.

21. Did you fall in love in 2006?
::grins idiotically::

22. How many one-night stands?
Hey now, I don’t kiss and tell. And what the heck, putting this question after #22?!

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I’ve been without a TV for most of 06, but I did watch Dead Famous, when I was living with my parents.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nah. I still have the same people on my Shitlist.

25. What was the best book you read?
Ooh, um, Mary Dorcey’s A Noise from the Woodshed, Sarah Waters’ The Nightwatch, Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home are all on there.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
techno music.

27. What did you want and get?
Life Experience and good stories to tell. And a really cute, brilliant girlfriend.

28. What did you want and not get?
A Star Trek-like transporter machine that lets you travel long distances without bothering with 13 hour plane rides.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Pride and Prejudice (well it came out in France in January of 06 so it counts). I didn’t see a whole lot of movies though.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 24 and I didn’t do a whole lot of anything, which was nice because I needed the rest.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
See above about that transporter machine. Ideally, managing to stay on the same continent (I don’t care which one) with Winter for more than a few days at a time.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
Thrift-store Euro-punk (I flatter myself).

33. What kept you sane?
Music. And books. And trees and clouds.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Huh, you know, I don’t think I had one. I was too busy getting in emotional-and-otherwise entanglements with real people.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
How much time do you have? But the one I dealt with the most in my daily life, aside from the daily questions of queerness, was vegetarianism and the politics of meat.

36. Who did you miss?
Who didn’t I miss? In no particular order: my family, the dog, Chanteuse, Winter.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Winter ::idiot grin again::

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006:
When in doubt, just take that flying leap and cross your fingers.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
argh, that’s tough, but this was the year I officially became an Indigo Girls fanatic, so I suppose that’d be best:

I’m coming home with a stone, strapped onto my back.
I’m coming home with a burning hope turning all my blues to black.
I’m looking for a sacred hand to carve into my stone.
A ghost of comfort, angels breath – to keep this life inside my chest.
This world falls on me with hopes of immortality.
Everywhere I turn all the beauty just keeps shaking me.
“World Falls”


the root of all evil December 30, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 3:54 pm

So I just got back from Big Box Chain Store (not Wal-Mart, thankfully, but not far off) where I went on an underwear shopping spree, cause Andygrrl’s Unmentionables were getting in a pretty pitiful state. And I threw in the newest Indigo Girls CD (I got the newest Nicholas Sparks’ novel for Christmas from a well-meaning cousin, I had to do something to counteract that).

Now even though several items were on sale, and there was nowhere I could get that album for cheaper, the total still came to 89 dollars and change.

And now I’m at home wondering when I became such a good little consumer. Because I never considered myself a shopper, malls give me the hives, my idea of clothes shopping is a 10-minute run through a thrift store, and all I asked for Christmas were a pair of tennis shoes since my old ones were dead. But I still seem to bleed money. Which comes of being a nice middle-class girl who never had to deal with finances until, well, now. I wouldn’t be broke if I was frugal and planned ahead.

The problem is I can always justify the things I spend money on: books, music, magazines. There’s always The Latest Novel from My Favoritest Author that I’ve Been Anticipating Forever! And as for the Indigo Girls, well goddammit, I may have moved 1000 miles, but I’m still the only lesbian in town, or that’s how it feels. My dyke culture is limited to reading material and music. So I always jump at any scrap of it I can find. See? Totally justified. But my bank account doesn’t agree. And I’m really tired of scrambling, living hand-to-mouth, juggling checks and relying on a health care plan that mainly consists of not getting hit by a truck.

But that’s the thing about consumerism, it’s a placebo, it uses consumption to fill a non-material need. I need to feel sexually desirable, so I buy cute underwear (lots of black nylon, for the curious. And a little bit of lace). I need lesbian community, so I buy CDs and every book and magazine I can get my hands on. Magazines, especially, have always been my connection to a larger lesbian culture that I’m largely isolated from. What I should do instead is try to create community, instead of purchasing a semblance of it. I know I’m not the only queer girl in town.

It’s a remote control America that’s on sale
because standing up for justice can’t compare
to clicking through it from a lazy chair–
Answer: jerry, montel, oprah
Question: folks who really care! for a million dollars!
in this new mcveggie burger world order
where the mainstream scene has an alternative theme.
where national health care is one hundred percent off!
and medicare is in the fifty percent bin,
so you can buy–half an operation
Alix Olsen

The problem is that finding non-consumerist solutions to my needs and desires requires the one thing I don’t have: time. Time is money in a capitalist society and my time is spent working, studying, sleeping, or eating. How can I organize a dyke social night when we’re all scrambling to make ends meet? How can I be more self-sufficient if I don’t even have time to learn how?

It’s ridiculous how quickly I use all this as an excuse to put myself down. Of course I don’t know how to handle finances, I was never taught. So learn. Teach yourself. I’ve been indoctrinated in consumerism, it stands to reason that I’m going to default to that behavior without realizing it. I studied Queer Theory, not the history of the labor movement. And I’ve absorbed those American cultural values–if you’re poor, you’ve only got yourself to blame! You deserve to be poor! People on foodstamps are trash! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps! Work harder! So I need to learn to dismantle that thinking.

And I’m tired of just reading about progressive activism. I got burned out in college, so Europe was my time off, but now I want to get back into fighting the good fight. That town I’m living in needs it, a fabulously wealthy tourist town that’s just capitalist version of feudalism, those of us who live there working like hell for the profit of an elite few. I know a girl who works at the vegetarian cafe, she’s got a lot of experience in the labor movement and she wants to start a Stitch’n’Bitch. And my ideal Stitch’n’Bitch would be overtly political, as well as fun, and a good way to network. If I can get all those damn hippies to put down their freakin’ bongs, that is.

So that’s one of my many resolutions: learning to control my finances and deprogram my capitalist brainwashing. Start asking: how can I meet this need myself, without relying on consumerism? How can I DIY it? What’s the lesser evil that I can choose? I know I can’t extricate myself completely from this capitalist economy (short of moving to a commune), but what should I do to keep myself in relative security without betraying my ideals? What’s the best compromise in this situation? Think, in short, about my money and how I use it. I’ll figure it out as I go along, I guess, like I always do.


happy holidays December 25, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 3:31 pm

So I was roused this morning by my brother’s big, ugly, drooly bulldog slobbering all over my face. It was a rude awakening, since I had someone decidedly more attractive in mind at that moment. Luckily I love that dog to pieces. Which is kinda like my family: big, loud pains in the ass, but you can’t do anything but love ’em. It’s been a bit like National Lampoon, let’s put it that way. I think my best present this year are cloudy skies and wintry weather, a nice respite from desert intensity.

Once upon a time — of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve — old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the people in the court outside, go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them. The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already: it had not been light all day: and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a large scale.

That’s my favorite bit of A Christmas Carol. I hope you’re all having a good one, and drink some mulled wine for me (we don’t do mulled wine here, just beer and cheap zinfandel).


the long dark tea-time of the soul December 21, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 2:43 pm

And a happy Solstice to you all. My plans for The Longest Night include finally getting everything unpacked and ordered in my room, having a beer (Bridgeport India Pale Ale) and a long, hot bath. Because, goddamn. It’s been a long month. I hate our manic schizo society, running us into the ground when we should be resting, making every opportunity for fun and laughter into a depressing social obligation. Tonight’s the longest night, and I don’t have the time or energy to make use of it, though I really need to. Between moving, being financially screwed, looking for a new job, keeping up with school, my spirit needs a little TLC.

And this is what solstice is about, that little sliver of light right when things seem darkest. I’m calling it the long dark tea-time of the soul [/Douglas Adams] because my worries are external, and therefore resolvable, and I tend to forget that. This is all metaphorical, of course; it’s sunny as hell here, which might be contributing to my sense of malaise.

Maybe, after the job interviews, and the errands, and the cleaning and studying for tomorrow’s exam, I’ll get a chance to light a candle and pray this:

I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .
I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . .
When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .
I am food on the prisoner’s plate. . . .
I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .
I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .
I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge. . . .
I am the heart contracted by joy. . .
the longest hair, white before the rest. . . .
I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow. . . .
I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .
I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . . .

a bit of Jane Kenyon for your holidays.


confessions of a Creampuff copy-cat December 9, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:23 am

Cause Roro is just that cool. If she’s gonna make a big move and post pictures, you know I gotta do it too.

Which is partly why I’ve been out of commission recently. I ditched the hippie-fungus-tea housemates with the Evil Kitties for a swank place across town. Am now living with my long-haired-lived-on-a-pagan-commune-in-Kentucky, grew-up-with-Hari-Krishnas buddy and classmate, whom I’m going to call Elrond, because he looks exactly like that with his hair down to his butt. Elrond is quite possibly the most unusual straight white dude I’ve met. He, unlike my former housemates, is a low-maintenence hippie. And he cooks, too, so I don’t have to!

But onto the important stuff:
La Guerrillere’s new ‘hood, yall. December in the Southwest totally screws with my head.

I HAVE A FIREPLACE!! A real one! And a purple futon that doubles as Elrond’s bed; it’s also the only stick of furniture in the place.
You can sort of vaguely see me reflected in the front door. My very own front door. I just realized that this is my very first actual place of my own. Living in a 300 year old boarding school in France is exotic, but not exactly the same thing. I feel a Virginia Woolf quote coming on. I have a room of one’s own! Now if only I could manage the five hundred a year month.

My own kitchen! Fungus-tea and insect free!! This is where I, ah, “supervise” Elrond’s cooking, and we usually eat sitting on top of the bar there, because we don’t have any chairs. We do have plates and utensils, etc. We’re, well, I’m not that broke. But the cupboard is pretty damn bare, the deposit for this place cleaned me out completely, and even then I had to rely on Mommy and Daddy to see me through.

But do I care? A little, hence the Happy Thoughts our school business guru (“professor” would be a gross overstatement) assigned. But given the choice, would I rather be broke and happy, or slightly more comfortable financially and totally frustrated?


thinking Happy Thoughts about my bank account December 8, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 3:06 pm

I am manifesting a big fat paycheck in my balance! I am so grateful that I’ve got enough money to pay my bills at the end of the month! Gosh, it’s so nice to have health insurance!
[/New Age]

And now, some poems:

‘Celia Celia’
When I am sad and weary
When I think all hope has gone
When I walk along Old Holborn
I think of you with nothing on
Adrian Mitchell

‘Write About Happiness’
What does happiness look like?
You in your red coat.
Where does it go for a drink?
To bed, on Sundays.

What does happiness sound like?
The purr of an unhooked phone.
What does it do for a living?
It has private means.

What does happiness feel like?
The barehanded planting of bulbs.
What is its home address?
Yours, sweetheart.

Does happiness have a scent?
The sea, the air, the earth.
Where did you see it last?
Under the bedclothes, laughing.

What taste does happiness have?
That of a long, slow kiss.
And how does happiness write?
Badly, like this.
Carol Ann Duffy

Courtesy HB. Thanks!